Weekly Thoughts and Tips

December 2015


Post-Christmas Gratitude

By Marissa Widdison
December 25, 2015

Paper heart with Thank You written on it

We often emphasize gratitude during Thanksgiving time, but does that attitude stick around once the wrapping paper comes off? Here’s a fun idea for a new family tradition: pick a night during the week after Christmas to sit down as a family and make thank-you notes for the presents you’ve received. This would make a great family night activity!

Beauty in Simplicity

By Marci Monson
December 18, 2015

Signing teacher helping child

When I was called to be ward Primary chorister, I spent the first few months stressed out, thinking I needed to print, cut out, and color elaborate activities to keep the kids engaged each week. I'd find adorable ideas online, but I just didn’t have three hours to dedicate to getting ready for a 20-minute singing time. Then one Sunday I did a simple activity using stickers, and the kids completely ate it up. The activity took minutes to prepare, and I felt like it went over better than anything I’d done to that point. I now realize that there are more important things than having a “blog-worthy” activity each week. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Know the song. Make sure you know the lyrics well enough that you don’t have to be constantly looking at the book. Eye contact will encourage singing and deter disruptive behavior.
  2. Pray to know the needs of the children. President Henry B. Eyring once said, “Ask in faith for revelation to know what you are to do. With your call comes the promise that answers will come.”
  3. Engage the children. Even if it is something as simple as erasing a word off the board, children like to participate.
  4. Bear testimony. Thomas S. Monson said, “Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite.” Many of the primary songs are sacred and teach beautiful messages. I try to end with my testimony so that the children understand the importance of the messages they are singing and hearing.

Some weeks still take me longer to prepare for than others, but I’ve found that as long as I have the Spirit and am praying for the children, there is great beauty in simplicity.

An Advent to Last

By Marissa Widdison
December 11, 2015


Beginning Monday the 14th, your family can use an advent calendar from the December Friend magazine to count down to Christmas. Each day, read about an element of the nativity story and then add a picture to the calendar. I thought this advent activity was so beautiful that I decided to make a copy that I can reuse in upcoming years. To fortify my calendar, I pasted it into a file folder. Then I covered the front of the calendar with contact paper, which will both protect the surface and help it stick to the file folder. I made sure not to put contact paper across the folding seam of the file folder so that it could still fold in half easily. Then I covered the cut-out pieces with contact paper too. Once I trimmed the tabs off of the file folder, it all fit neatly into a manila envelope for storage, along with the daily readings. Now my advent calendar is ready to become an annual tradition!

A Season of Light

By Jan Pinborough
December 4, 2015

Family holding candles

Often it is the very simplest things that are the most memorable—and the most meaningful—for our children. Here's an idea to bring the peace of the Savior's birth into your home throughout the month:

  1. Each evening light a candle or plug in a string of lights. If you use a long taper-type candle, you can make a series of marks for each night in December.
  2. Tell a simple story about the birth or life of the Savior. Beginning on December 14, you can use the advent activity in the December Friend. 
  3. Sing a Christmas song about Jesus.

No gifts are needed. No cookies. No elves on shelves. Just a light, a song, and a few moments to feel the light, love, and beauty of the Savior’s birth. Your children will love this simplest of Christmas traditions.